Ronna Harris, LCSW, BCD
My interest in working with people began when I took a high school psychology course – I am fascinated with the nature/nurture influences that combine to make us who we are. While studying for my Bachelor’s Degree, I was introduced to the field of social work, which focuses more widely on the person within his/her family and community systems. I earned my Masters in Social Work from The University of Michigan, where I learned a great deal – including how to drive in the snow!
My first hospital social work job was in 1995 (in Oxford, England where I lived for 7 years), and I knew I had found my niche in medical social work. Since moving back to California in 1997 with my husband and 2 daughters, I have been working in hospital and outpatient (clinic) settings. Until recently, I worked for Keck Medical Center of USC with patients with very complex medical situations, many of whom had a cancer diagnosis. I am an avid patient advocate, and I am comfortable helping patients decide on their health care wishes and expressing those wishes to their treatment team. I feel very strongly that all treatment options should be offered (including the option to not undergo aggressive treatment), and that all patient decisions should be respected without judgment.
My most recent job has been as a social worker in a geriatric psychiatry program at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. In my time away from work, I enjoy hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains, going to dinner with close friends, doing yoga at my local YMCA, and spending time with my young adult daughters when they are home.
My mother has a chronic and progressive health condition, which has offered me insight into being the medical decision maker for a loved one. It is so much more difficult for me to have tough conversations with her than it is with others with whom I have no personal connection! I understand how challenging it is to talk about medical care goals and end of life issues; It will be my privilege to being your guide and advocate during this process.
Tricia Damos, MSW, MPH
Tricia wakes up everyday with a passion to make a difference. She is new to the social work field, but has been in the human services industry for the past 10 years.
Tricia grew up in Northern Kentucky and continued her education in California, where she pursued her passion for assisting patients in the medical field. She is a California State University of Fullerton and University of Southern California alumni with a drive to promote best practices in end of life care. She recently completed her dual Masters program for social work and public health from USC, and was placed at Norris Cancer Hospital of USC in the social work department for her final internship.
Paul Blount, MSW
Paul graduated with his Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Cal State Northridge. He started his social work career as a Clinician, specializing in trauma among adults with a concentration in attachment. His practice led him to work for non-profits, clinical consultation for the foster care system and medical social work. He currently works as a Senior Program Coordinator for the Los Angeles Dependency Court, Child Advocate’s Office; where he consults with Advocates to have children’s voices be heard in the system. Paul’s love for medical social work has never disappeared. He continues to assist patients keep their voice; and to let their choices be heard and implemented.
Paul currently lives in Los Angeles, is married to a wonderful woman and has a beautiful little girl. He loves to have family time, travel to awesome places and spend time with friends! Paul cannot wait to collaborate with you and your family to let your voice and choices shine.
Nikki Hemans, LCSW
Hello! My name is Nikki Hemans and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with many years of experience working with adults and children in a variety of settings. I am originally from the South and came to Los Angeles 10 years ago to complete my graduate studies at UCLA. Since that time, I’ve assisted clients with a wide range of clinical needs, including: anxiety, depression, end of life issues, childhood trauma, grief and loss, relationship challenges and family discord. Currently, I provide clinical supervision to professionals and interns as well as maintain a private practice.
As a licensed clinician, I am always working on enhancing my knowledge base through continuing education, peer consultation, certification courses and professional community involvement. I am very excited to be a part of the Copilots In Care team, and I look forward to supporting clients and their families in the important process of creating their medical goals and wishes. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, yoga, and time spent with friends and family.
Rebecca Li, MSW
Hello! My name is Rebecca, and I am a medical social worker here in the Bay Area. I’m passionate about helping people communicate their choices while navigating a complicated and confusing medical system.
I went to UC Berkeley for undergrad where I studied Sociology. After college, I decided that I wanted to be a medical social worker. As the daughter of a doctor and a physical therapist, helping through “health care” has always been a part of my life. Through medical social work, I hoped that I would be able to support families and patients as they encountered the health care system. I got my MSW at Smith College School for Social Work, and then completed a post-Masters fellowship in social work at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.
I am very excited that you have taken this step to reflect on and communicate your wishes with your family. I know from personal experience what a gift this can be. I have distinct memories of sitting down with my grandmother and our family to discuss her advanced health care directive. In my Chinese-American culture, there is a lot of fear and superstition around health care conversations. There can be barriers to communication in every family, but this was an additional challenge in mine. I am especially grateful that my grandmother had the courage to communicate her choices to my family.
I am a Bay Area native, and I couldn’t imagine myself living anywhere else. I enjoy swimming in the frigid waters of the San Francisco Bay, singing and dancing, and cooking delicious meals with my family.
I look forward to getting to know you better and being part of your journey through Copilots in Care.
Katie Savin, MSW
Katie Savin has a lifetime of experience interpreting between the medical and lay communities. Growing up with chronic illness, she developed a keen insight into the potential for communication gaps between health care providers and patients. These experiences prompted her to obtain her Masters in Social Work from the Hunter School of Social Work in New York, NY, specializing in clinical work in health care. After working in critical and palliative care, Katie focused her clinical and scholarly efforts on improving the experiences of patients and their families managing serious chronic or life-limiting illness.
Most recently, Katie worked at San Francisco General Hospital where she served as the Palliative Care Social Worker. Prior to that, she worked at Stanford Hospital as the ICU Social Worker. Across hospitals and settings, Katie has remained passionate about bioethical issues, end-of-life conversations, and maximizing transparency and comfort for all. When not at the hospital, Katie can usually be found in a nearby dance studio preparing for a competition or at home playing with her cat.
Kristin Markov, MSW
My name is Kristin and I’m an East Coast transplant from Pennsylvania. I have always been fascinated by learning about the lives and stories of others, and this passion led me to study social work at New York University. After graduating, I moved to California and went on to work in the field of international adoption. As an adoption social worker, I helped individuals and families adopt children from many different countries, and I managed a team of social workers located all over the state.
During the birth of my first son in 2013, I arrived at the hospital with a detailed plan I had printed out to share with my nurses and doctor. There was nothing too complicated in that plan, but after hearing stories of births that were scary and traumatic, I was determined to have a positive birth experience. It was the first time in my life that I was a patient in a hospital, and I realized how important is to be actively involved in your own medical care. It can’t be said enough that you are your own best advocate, and I was able to experience that firsthand as I tried, with the help of my husband, to communicate my medical wishes to my caregivers. I am so thankful that I came in with a plan, and I believe that no one should have to compromise their personal
wishes when it comes to important medical decisions.
I have two young boys who keep me busy, and I enjoy spending time in beautiful California nature, baking healthy treats and going on adventures with my family. Our most recent one led us to Germany, where we lived for two years. I am thrilled to be a part of the Copilots In Care team, and I look forward to helping clients make the most out of their experience with the service.